When a bar begins with a disco ball, its got good times in its genes. At Foreign National, the just-opened haute watering hole Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, said disco ball is an enormous orb of mosaic mirrors, plucked from a local antique shop. More than mere design, this stylish sphere is what sparked the Stateside team to open a dapper drinking den next to their popular Vietnamese spot.
Designer Callie Meyer transformed the empty sliver of a space—where the former tenant, an auto garage owner, parked his pickup truck—into a cosmopolitan cocktail emporium. In the candlelit room—one of Seattle’s darkest bars—rows of backlit bottles beckon from the smoky-mirror-backed bar.
A beaded curtain and brass details—wall sconces, coasters, and swan figurines—add to the vintage vibe. As at Stateside, Meyer’s first foray in restaurant design, wallpaper is a key design ingredient. Retro paper from Paris in undulating purple and spiff up the bathroom and main space, which at just 28 seats, oozes intimacy.
As chef/co-owner Eric Johnson
explains, Foreign National’s look intentionally avoids bamboo and other Asian décor clichés. Instead, the bar’s design “feels as if you’re on the top floor bar of a chic Asian hotel.” Johnson would know, having worked as a chef in Shanghai and Hong Kong fancy spots.
His years abroad actually inspired Foreign National’s name. Johnson and co-owner Seth Hammond originally had “Expatriate” in mind, but upon discovering that Portland had a beloved cocktail bar with the same moniker, they opted for this catchy synonym instead.
To sip, choose from a lineup of hand crafted cocktails featuring stellar spirits, Far Eastern flavors, and fresh-squeezed juices. Opt for classic, the lovely Pisco, Amaro Montenegro and sour orange Foreign National, to creamy, a Thai Long Island Iced Tea—the spiked version of the refreshing Thai beverage.
Led by Adam Fortuna, Stateside’s bar manager, a dream team of Seattle bartenders—Tommy Stearns (Canon
), Shattuck Wildaner (Altura
), and Eli Hetrick (Sun Liquor
)—shake up each drink with equal parts affability and skill.
Chef Johnson’s bar snacks mirror Stateside’s menu, with his culinary heft and Asian pedigree packed into approachable, delicious dishes. Nibble on Pho Cuon, Vietnamese
braised beef and herb rolls wrapped in pillowy soft rice noodles and chubby Thai-style fermented pork and sticky rice sausages, a gourmet spin on cocktail wieners. Don’t miss the spiral cut curry puffs—buttery, croissant-like French pastry stuffed with curry.
Foreign National fills a void in Seattle’s bar scene with its swank sips, bites, and style. This is the place to don your dapper duds without a whiff of pretense. You don’t have to dress up—this is Seattle after all—but why not embrace the spirit that makes this jewel boîte sparkle?For more Seattle dining and travel news, click here.